Homes evacuated after meat factory ammonia leak

By Alice Foster

- Last updated on GMT

Belwood Foods factory was evacuated after the chemical leak
Belwood Foods factory was evacuated after the chemical leak

Related tags Global warming Nottingham

An ammonia leak at a meat processing factory forced the evacuation of about 30 nearby homes on Friday.

Four fire engines and an environmental protection unit were called to the Belwood Foods site in Brookhill Leys Road, Eastwood, Nottingham, at 10.15am.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and gas-tight protective suits managed to stem the leak in the factory, according to Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

‘Industrial refrigerators’

“It was a leak of ammonia from industrial refrigerators,”​ a fire service spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.

“We evacuated about 30 properties nearby as a precaution, as well as the factory obviously.”  

The company “isolated the valves”​ to prevent any further leaks and there were no injuries, she added.

Belwood Foods provides frozen chicken, including large quantities of ground meat, from the facility. It also offers a freezing and packing service.  

A company spokeswoman said the ammonia leak from its refrigeration system started on Friday and was brought under control the same day.

“The safety of our staff and neighbours is our primary concern and we have robust systems in place to deal with such incidents,​ she said.

“Our staff worked to resolve the problem as soon as possible in close co-operation with the local fire service, who temporarily evacuated our site and some nearby homes as a precaution.”

Evacuated from homes

Worried residents were evacuated from their homes and contacted their local newspaper, the Nottingham Post​, on Friday (November 13).

Ryan Corden, of Brookhill Leys Road, told the Post: “The smell was intolerable. It was making your throat sore and eyes run.”

Ammonia is a toxic gas with a pungent smell and can be explosive under certain conditions. 

Exposure to high concentrations causes burning of the nose, throat and respiratory tract, while very high concentrations can prove fatal. 

Ammonia refrigeration systems​ are set to become more widely used by food processors as other refrigerants, which damage the earth’s ozone layer or causes global warming, are phased out.

Cause of leak

“It was a leak of ammonia from industrial refrigerators.”

  • Spokeswoman, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.  

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